Scientists solved the 79-year-old mystery of the radioactive element promethium 15:03

American scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory had the opportunity to study in detail the properties of the radioactive element promethium for the first time 79 years after its discovery. The research was published in the scientific journal magazine Nature.

Promethium is one of the 15 lanthanide elements at the bottom of the periodic table. It is a rare earth metal with strong magnetism. Promethium has a few minor uses in nuclear batteries and in cancer diagnostics. Until recently, experts had a very limited understanding of its chemical properties, making it difficult to use this resource more widely.

Promethium has been little studied for decades due to its instability. The element has no stable isotope; They are all radioactive and decay into other substances over time.

In a new study, chemists managed to stabilize promethium by combining it with a ligand, a molecule called PyDGA that is specifically designed to trap metal atoms. PyDGA bonded promethium to hydrogen in an aqueous environment, allowing scientists to analyze the properties of the elusive rare earth.

The team used a highly specialized, element-specific technique called synchrotron X-ray absorption spectroscopy. High-energy photons produced by a particle accelerator bombarded the promethium compound to create a picture of the atoms’ positions and bond lengths.

Small differences in metal-oxygen bond lengths allowed the team to focus on the essential promethium-oxygen bond, ignoring any impurities.

This information made it possible for the first time to compare the properties of promethium with other rare earth element complexes.

The researchers hope their discovery will help find more new uses for promethium in science and industry.

Previous scientists learned Purify rare earth metal ores using microbes.

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Source: Gazeta

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